At the end of June we heard from 18 year old Joshua Simms who was about to start a summer job with the lighting crew at Glastonbury 2008. We’ve managed to track Josh down to ask him about his first festival experience. Did he make the tea or what?
Working for Fineline Lighting, Josh started the festival period by getting stuck into equipment prep and getting to know his fellow lampies. “We had a few long days in the warehouse, sorting out kit.” Josh says. Fineline regularly supply lighting kit for a number of different stages at Glastonbury, so there was also the small matter of loading several trucks.
“I drove down on the Tuesday night, ready to start rigging the next morning. After a busy prep, it was good to chill out the night before!”
The Load In
The morning of the load in, Josh was put on the lighting crew of the Dance and Fire ( AKA Blazing Saddles) and the Circus stage. This crew of three would oversee both stages for the rest of the festival.
The lighting gear comprised of the usual PAR64s plus High End StudioSpots and PC Beams and SGM Palco LED wash lights. This was a chance for Josh to use some quality LED colour mixing fixtures for the first time. “Those were great! We used them to light the white canopy of the Circus stage and got some really good effects.” Unsurprisingly, an Avolites Pearl was the desk of day.
Rigging any lighting system, especially in a harsh outdoor environment, you expect to have to find faults. This was valuable learning time for Josh, working with experienced lampies, picking up quick ways of tracing equipment problems. Working on school shows doesn’t always teach you such techniques. He tells us “ the Fineline crew were very happy to help and I was shown a few easier ways of doing stuff.”
Running the stages
Running the shows was split between his team, with Josh being given the responsibility of running the Blazing Saddles stage. “ The other guys were doing the Circus stage, so I got to have my own stage, do my own thing.” Josh was surprised that he would get to do so much but Rob Sangwell of Fineline tells us “ Josh has a good attitude and I knew that he could handle the task. He looked after that stage pretty much on his own, although there was obviously experienced crew to back him up.”
Having programmed up his desk, Josh says that Concert Lighting Programming.. came out a too late for him this year. He learned to use the Pearl on his last major school show and then the Pearl Simulator on his laptop. Fineline had also given him the chance to set up a Pearl and some fixtures in their warehouse.
We know that Josh didn’t spend time making the tea so we asked him if he got a chance to see the other areas at Glastonbury – including the bigger stuff. “I managed to have a look around backstage at the Pyramid and other stages, do a bit of kit spotting, but we all had our own shows to do. I did catch some of Jay Z’s set and thought he was really good despite what people said.” he says.
Long days, endless shows and patchy weather. Sound like the ideal festival work experience, but what about the social side?
“We finished shows pretty late and then all converged on the Acoustic Tent bar. We didn’t have to get up too early – shows started at 11am. The social stuff was great though and I was pretty tired by the end of it all.” Too many beers and talking b****cks all night is what festivals are all about. Josh didn’t miss out on this and, according to reports, got involved in dishing out some light hearted abuse. He escaped any major incidents himself, despite being the new boy. Attack is the best form of defence.
Getting on well with the crew, Josh gets good words from the rest of the Fineline team. Rob Sangwell told us “Josh doesn’t mind hard work and isn’t afraid to ask a question if he doesn’t understand something. He knows when to have a laugh and, more importantly, he knows when to keep his mouth shut.” So, a satisfied customer at the start of what could be a long career. “ We will definitely be employing Josh again.”
Back next year?
Josh obviously had a great time. Talking to him, he has a professional attitude which seems pretty unfazed by this gig – probably a good thing. Glastonbury has a kind of kudos that looks good on a CV, but friendships and a unique atmosphere make any job special.
First time out, opping your own stage might surprise a few On Stage Lighting readers but not us. These events have just the right mix of laid back attitude and professionalism to allow a newcomer to fit in and learn. Josh admits he was a bit surprised “I had expected the worst. Being the dogsbody, getting all the crap – but none of that really happened. Everyone worked hard. I didn’t expect to be operating a desk on my first festival. I hope to do a few more yet.”
Maybe Josh will make tea another time. BTW Josh, mine is “lampie standard” – white with two.
Did you think that Josh would spend most of his time making tea? Or hang around as the more experienced crew got on with stuff? Put your comments in the box as usual.
PS. Still trying to get hold of suitable photographic evidence – will update if any emerges.